The Pandemic and Climate Change

Updated: May 24



Can we take the economic slowdown caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic as an occasion to design a more sustainable future? That’s the question Meehan Crist addresses in her NYT’s article “What the Pandemic Means for Climate Change.” As you might imagine; it depends.

On the one hand, as she points out, the decrease in travel, consumption, and industrial output has decreased carbon emissions. On the other hand, restrictions have reduced development of renewable technologies and perhaps global conferences where nations could move beyond the Paris agreements. Which hand gets the upper hand, so to speak, depends on what we learn from this break in the global movement toward destroying our habitat?

Since the virus caused the break, one could repair it by defeating the epidemic and stimulating the economy. To improve something that is going in the wrong direction, however, is not very smart. We need to change direction. This break offers us a chance.

This opportunity to change direction requires that we appreciate and stay connected to the health care workers who have come forward to care and protect us. They may not be heroes, but they are stewards and servants who care for others—not for the sake of American prosperity or the American Dream—but for the sake of the vulnerable. We all are witness to a system of care that could be transferred to caring for the planet, for our habitat.

This break in the momentum of economic prosperity gives us an opportunity not to fix the break, but to break away from the tragedy of American prosperity and to break toward a viable future.

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